You might not know this since I’m constantly talking about body image, gender roles, and fighting systems of invisible oppression in my free public writing… but I actually help my clients privately on a broad variety of topics.
I’ve been an iPEC certified life coach for over 4 years, and the majority of my income comes from working with private clients all over the world who want help reaching their goals. I draw upon my vast web of resources and knowledge when giving assignments, but at its core, my job as a life coach is to help people identify what they want, and then help them set a plan (and get out of their own way) so that they can get there.
Honestly, it’s both more simple and more powerful than you might imagine, if you’ve never done coaching.
One client I’ll call Beth (who said I could share her story as an example) came to me last year with a very specific goal: she wanted to have better sex with her husband.
After two decades with a man she described as “wonderful but very, very logical,” Beth was struggling to see a future in which they had any sex life at all if something didn’t change. She told me that sex with him was always pretty good. It had started passionately and waned with time and kids and life, but even at it’s worst it was still not bad.
The problem for Beth was that her husband didn’t seem to think sex was something that required time, attention, nuance, novelty, or curiosity. She said he viewed sex as something you set-and-forget, while she viewed it as something to explore, savor, and use as a tool for continued growth and closeness as a couple.
Pretty clear, right? So we began.
After nearly two years of schooling to become a clinical sexologist, I expected part of my work with Beth would be introducing her to specific concepts and practices for sexual exploration. In the past I’d done such exercises with clients successfully, and I love giving clients resources for more pleasure and sexual fulfillment.
But as a life coach, my job was to help Beth figure out what she wanted and then help her get there. And while she initially told me that what she wanted was a more engaging sex life, it quickly became clear to me that sex was just a symbol for what was really missing, not the missing thing itself.
Beth’s life with her husband had fallen into a routine, a bit of a platonic-and-functional relationship: they shared their lives and their home, but they didn’t share much intimacy, they rarely went on adventures, and there wasn’t much laughter between them anymore.
She described it like this: “I feel like I’ve already learned everything about him I could ever learn, and also like he doesn’t care enough to ever learn anything more about me.”
This statement was heartbreaking, and it hung in the air for a moment as we both soaked in the grief, pain, loneliness, and fear we had just uncovered.
Better sex would be great, but what Beth really wanted was a marriage that was engaging, intimate, fun, and close. She was terrified they could never get that back, and that she was destined to feel alone and disconnected forever.
These are the moments as a coach that I love: when through answering questions, identifying their needs and desires, naming fears, and clearing limiting beliefs, a client suddenly pulls back the psychic curtains and sees their truth.
Beth had been focusing on sex as a means to intimacy and closeness in a marriage that she was afraid was dying. She also realized that she had lost herself; become practically unrecognizable from the vibrant person with a full life she’d been when they first married.
When people ask me what I do, I sometimes say I’m a “truth seeker.”
In my writing (as you may have noticed) I sort through complicated, vague, and ethereal topics to get to the truth underneath; organizing concepts, thoughts, and feelings into words to find maximum clarity, accuracy, and resonance.
As a coach, I do the same for my clients. The truth will set you free, and all that. 😉
In my experience, dealing with that truth directly leads to way more success than trying to get what you want indirectly from a place of cloudy ambiguity.
(For example, I once had a client tell me she was desperate to convince her mother in law to back off, and when I asked how she’d been going about accomplishing this, she said she’d been dropping hints for nearly a decade, including everything from returning tupperware “too quickly” to not sending a Christmas card. As you can imagine, her indirect tactics didn’t lead to anything but simmering resentment.)
But back to Beth.
After we identified the deeper truth (that she wants more intimacy) under her original truth (that she wanted better sex), things exploded. She was heartbroken to realize that the problems in her marriage were so much bigger than she’d realized, and expressed how badly she wished the problem could be solved by just visiting a sex shop together and trying something new.
I wished that for her too.
But this is how coaching works:
discovering the truth under your truth is often more painful or scary than the thing you’ve been focusing on at first, because the brain is always trying to protect and distract you from big scary truths.
It would rather convince you that the problem is something simple, tangible, and controllable: like your sex life, your body/weight/appearance, your job, or your mother in law’s habit of dropping by unannounced with casserole.
But eventually you realize that trying to solve the wrong problem means that not only do you never actually get what you want, but you also feel frustrated, resentful, and stuck a lot. Truth-seeking is the way out: first having the courage to see the truth that’s been swirling around your subconscious, and then having both the courage and the skill to take action on that truth in your life.
And for that, a coach can be really goddamn helpful.
We all have blind spots, and an impartial but compassionate third party can ask the right questions, reflect back the truth as they see it, offer resources and support, and hold the space for you as you come to your own conclusions. It’s why I hire my own coaches, despite being a coach myself!
It’s also what I did that day with Beth.
After validating that her grief and pain made sense, and that she deserved to live a big, juicy, fulfilling life full of connection and adventure, we shifted into goal-setting mode.
Her task for the week (I typically give my clients homework between sessions) was to tell her husband how she’d been feeling, and how much she misses the closeness and playfulness they used to have, and ask him if this was something he was willing to work on. Then, if that conversation went well, they could brainstorm a list of fun dates, adventures, or new activities to try together: anything that gets them out of their comfort zone and invites an opportunity to see each other in a new light. If not, she would spend the week processing what that meant for her, and whether it was a dealbreaker.
Luckily he said yes.
On top of that, Beth’s job over the next few months was to get her needs for intimacy, fun, and closeness met elsewhere. Without her husband, she joined a hiking group and book club, and tried a dance class, volunteering, and horseback riding. She scheduled coffees and dinners with friends, and discovered that her husband, who was admittedly pretty annoyed and pouty at first that she wasn’t always just home to quietly watch tv with him, eventually got with the program and realized that she was gonna live a great life with or without him.
They spent about six months scheduling a day or night to try new stuff together once a week, and they also started using conversation prompts to shift their conversation out of the usual ruts (jobs/family/news) and into a place where they could actually get to know each other again.
Beth came back from her own solo adventures full of stories and energy, nourished by the fun and connection, and able to share parts of herself with her husband that had been dormant for a long time. After some initial resistance, he started using their time apart to do his own things too, joining a gym, picking up old woodworking projects, and occasionally playing a round of golf or grabbing a beer with a work buddy.
Their sex life even got better, as they both came to their scheduled time together more engaged, fulfilled, playful, and attention to each other.
I’ve never met Beth’s husband, but I appreciate him deeply for stepping up and rising to the challenge of living a more vibrant life, and a more intimate marriage. That said, every step of the way I was supporting Beth in her own courageous processing, including conversations about what it would mean to leave him, if it came to that.
This is life coaching. You can call it sex coaching, or body image coaching, or relationship coaching, but really that’s just a branding decision; those are just the topics that get people in the door.
I don’t tell people what to do, I just help them find clarity, overcome fear, and figure out what they really need and want. I help them find their truth, and then make sure they are supported in implementing what they find.
I work with women who want to feel more confident in their bodies, men who are working to cast off the rules of toxic masculinity, and people who want to find more meaning in life. I work with individuals who are building online businesses, struggling to advocate for themselves at work, healing their relationship to a body with chronic illness, learning to better communicate with their families, and wanting to improve their sex life, improve their relationships, or fight back against oppression.
And of course, the majority of my clients come to me in search of self-worth, confidence, self-acceptance, and freedom in one way or another.
None of this can be done without them discovering the truth: the truth of what actually hurts, the truth about how they feel, and the truth about what they really want and need.
I help people discover the truth they already have inside them, whether it’s buried under cultural programming, obscured by fear, avoided out of habit, or simply laying deep below the surface just waiting for someone to go digging.
What do you need help with? What deeper truth are you looking for? What deeper truth is looking for you?
And more interestingly… what is it costing you not to have access to it? (Seriously I want to know. Hit reply and share!)
And since benching my group coaching program on body image and self-worth, I’m opening up a few more private coaching slots this fall, so I’d love to work with you.
Wishing you clarity and trust,
Please follow and like us: